This post was written by DW about a year ago when we still lived in a 2 bed/1 bath/1 garage home. Since then we moved into an RV, stopped drinking milk, and set the thermostat to 60-65F. Maybe if we’re lucky DW can be enticed into writing an update.
So, a fairly normal American mid/late 20’s female meets a fairly unusual male. She’s in grad school, has credit card debt, goes out to eat with her friends, goes to movies, opening nights even, has a full kitchen compliment, likes cooking/baking, including a ‘few’ electronic appliances e.g. bread maker, george foreman grill, sandwich maker, ect. He, being just out of grad school, has decided that he can fit all his belongings into one suitcase, including his kitchen needs. She has a full 8 person service of dishes. He believes in having one plate, one bowl, one fork, knife and spoon. He doesn’t believe in spending money. This means maybe going to the dollar theater, when we lived near one, and not going out to eat unless under duress.
Coming from a more consumeristic background, it has been challenging to be married to someone so frugal. I’m not as big a consumer as I could be – I come from a military family with 4 kids. But, I did spend too much money, used credit, and had the brainwashed attitude that everyone has credit cards and everyone makes payments. I also worried what would happen when I got out of school, having a good enough job to keep up with the debt. That’s where being married to an extremely frugal person is good. It has re-taught me how to think about money and spending. He helped me get myself out of 10K credit card debt in 2 years on a 17- 21K/year salary. He also showed me how to start a new IRA.
That said, the frustration part does occur. I like to go out to eat, he prefers to spend less money and stay home. He says milk is too expensive and to use water. Tried that, doesn’t work for me, I like milk in my cereal. Arguments about every piece of furniture, whether we need it or not. As a result the table and chairs were sold when we moved (ed.’s note: we never used them). So if we have more than two people visit, people sit on the floor. Good thing we don’t have people visit (ed.’s note: so we still don’t need them). He wanted the smallest wedding possible, fewest people. We settled for just immediate family – 17 people total, not counting the two dogs. I want to buy a soda out, he thinks you should take it from home. As he puts it, I tend to buy things to solve a problem, he’d rather wait and think for a few weeks and come up with something to solve the problem that doesn’t involve spending money. The wait attitude is sometimes difficult to bring yourself too, even though you might acknowledge your spouse is right. I’m also constantly “reminded” how expensive it is to have a car, and the lack of a need for one though driving across 80 might have finally convinced him that the US is bigger than small European country.
So, an extremely frugal husband, yeah, that can be challenging, some times extremely frustrating, but sometimes rewarding. When the last credit card was paid off, when he had the down payment for the new car after the old one died on I-90 in the middle of NY, knowing that there isn’t so much to worry about with the checkbook, then it’s very rewarding. When we’re sitting in a 55F house in mid January, kinda frustrating. When we are arguing about buying a space heater, buying firewood, the need for certain appliances or utensils, then its extremely frustrating.
There are things I miss, I miss going to the movies, going out to eat, buying cookies or candy when I want it. I don’t miss being in debt, I don’t miss worrying about paying the bills and how fast I’ll get a job after the degree and whether it will pay enough. Well, I still worry about that one, but not for the same reasons or to the same extent.
Being married to someone like this (ed’s note: Note how affectionately she refers to me ), if you don’t come from that mindset involves a lot of rethinking how you look at/approach things, about priorities in life. I’m not as exteme, and may never reach that point. It does prompt some arguments and at times we just can’t understand each other. But, I think I’m becoming a better member of the economic class and sometimes he softens up a little bit.
Since a lot of people misunderstood this post, there’s a follow up to it.